How to Care for Your Clown Loaches
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Clown Loach Factoids

Origin

Indonesia,  Sumatra, Borneo

Maximum Size

12” but 6” more typical

Longevity

10+ years

Housing

Bigger the better

Security

Likes caves, crevices, crannies

Temperature

Prefers 75o to 85o

Attitude

Easy-going schooling fishes

Plus or Minus?

Devours snails avidly

Foods

Loves live foods.  Eats flakes in schools.

Water

Needs clean water

Biggest Threat

Ich and many ich cures

LA

LA

LA

LA
Every tank deserves a clown loach.  Nice rich colors and a great personality.


Origins:  Clown loaches come from the warm waters of Indonesia.  Indonesia hosts many fish farms, however, many clown loaches are captured from the wild.

Nocturnal (sort of):  Most loaches are children of the night.  They like to prowl when the sun goes down.  Clown loaches are happy to work the day shift.  When you feed them, they eat.  They prefer dimmer tanks.  Float some watersprite on the surface and your loaches will thank you.

Water Conditions:  Although they come from soft acid water originally, clown loaches adapt to most water conditions.  Just keep their water clean. 

LA
Even the 1.5-inch clown loaches catch your eye.  Watch 'em dig for goodies.

LA
Mature clown loaches look so much better.

Appeal:  You can’t beat clown loach colors.  Younguns start out yellow with black bars trimmed with orange fins and tail.  As they grow, their bodies turn oranger and their black bars darken.  Their fins and tail turn a bright orange.

LA Pic
Clown loaches dig right in looking for goodies.


Snail Clean up Crew:  Clown loaches shuck snails nearly as fast as you toss them in their tank.  They totally eliminate ALL snails.  Apply waterproof lipstick and kiss your mystery snail collection goodbye.

LA
Two three-inch newbee clown loaches -- in their tank about two hours.  They'll color up later.

Size:   In aquariums, you rarely see clown loaches larger than six inches.  Larger clowns color up much better than young ones.  They grow 50 to 100% larger in the wild where they get more room (and food).

LA
Clown loaches looking for food or just cavorting for fun?

LA
Clown loaches like each other.  Their interactions in groups add to their appeal.

LA
Of course, you don't need to run this many head of clown loaches to make them happy.

LA
Maybe this many.  They like to hang with each other.

LA
Thirty or so ought to do it.  Seriously, groups of three work fine.

 

Schoolers:  Clown loaches love to school together.  Don’t stop with just one.  Singles tend to pout.  The more the merrier.  They get along great with their own species – unlike many botias, which hate each other and any other fish that looks like them. 

LA
Clown loach eyeball knives can convince the largest cichlids to mess less with loaches.

LA
The larger the loach, the larger the knives.

Mixers:  They get along well with most larger fishes.  Those little pop-up knives by their eyes keep other fishes from pestering them more than once.  These switch-blade knives also protect their eyes as they plow thru their substrate in search of snacks.

LA Pic
Clown loaches pretty much ignore other species.  Skinny guys here.

Tank Mates:  Gouramis, goldfish, and larger barbs make good tank mates.  You can also mix your clown loaches with equal-sized non-violent American cichlids.  If you mix them with territorial cichlids, expect lots of fights.  Clown loaches tend to win those fights. The switchblade knives help.

Breeding:  Clown loaches do not breed in captivity.

LA Pix
Look for plump bellies and bright colors when picking your clown loaches.

Foods:   Clown loaches usually start out about half starved.  Plump their little bellies up with frozen brine shrimp or blood worms.  Give them some live black worms, too.  Clown loaches eagerly eat flake foods after a week or so.  They seem to adapt quicker when kept in groups.  They eat better when they cavort and compete with each other.

LA
Swords and other fast swimmers can eat all your clown loach food, if you feed short rations.

Gravel Choice:  Good foods seem to affect the colors of clown loaches more than the substrate color.  White or light colored substrates can make their tank lots brighter than they prefer.

LA Pix
Clown loach on left has a tank full of watersprite to sort thru and snack on.

Plants:  Add some grassy plants such as vallisneria or sagittarius to make your clown loaches feel more at home.  Even anacharis or plastic plants help.  They like to snack on live plants.

LA
Put an extra month or two on your clown loaches and they look better.  They still like caves.

Hiding Places:  Give them some caves to hide in.  They prefer to stay out of bright light during the day.  They need a hideout the most when they’re small. 

 

Disease:  Clown loaches catch ich at the drop of a hat.  Plan on it, whether you own a hat or not.  Give them a half-strength dose of ich cure when you take yours home.  Any kind of stress puts out the welcome mat for the neighborhood ich germs.  When using any medications, use them carefully.  The clown loaches’ sensitive skin makes them susceptible to most dye treatments.

Filtration:  Clown loaches demand clean water.  Do not overfeed.  And you cannot use snails to clean up uneaten food.

LA
Add two or three clown loaches to your aquarium soon.

LA
At three inches clown loaches develop their best colors.

LA
Don't panic if your clown loach lays atop your aquaria for the fun of it.  They can be goofy.

LA
Here's a three-inch clown loach with not much color.

Color Bumpers:  Well fed clown develop very rich colors.  We’ve had the guy above about four days.  He (and another new arrival) is in with a clutch of a dozen or so slightly smaller clown loaches, so he’s not pale from loneliness.  He’s not skinny or in poor water.  He just needs some carotenoids in his diet to bring out his reds, oranges, and yellows.  Solution?  Feed him some brine shrimp, plankton, baby shrimp, and/or frozen bloodworms.  He’ll color up over time.
 

LA
Two-inchers look like this.
 

LA
Four-inch clown loaches should look like this.

Last Word:  Clown loaches look good at any age.  They improve as they mature.   You may run across a larger (and uglier) royal clown loach.  Not really a close relative but they do cost a royal bundle.  LA.
 

Jamie McIntosh, June 7, 2011
hi again on your clown loach page it says they don't breed in captivity but they have a look at this website http://www.loaches.com/articles/clown-loach-breeding-related-items 

LA
Brace of 5-inch clown loaches.

A:  Thanks for the report which starts out like this :

The following account is about an article that is of interest, but must be treated with great skepticism. The original article was illustrated by excellent colour drawings, because the author claimed that his photographs taken at the time were unobtainable. This was due to being stored in a garage to which access was blocked by a large pile of earth and rubble.
Over 10 years later, these photographs have never been published.

However, the report went on to mention that they have been "injection spawned" in S.E. Asia and the Czech Republic.  So, you can just zip on over to Walgreen's and buy some of the carp hormone and a set of hypodermic needles.  Thanks.  I'm adding your info to my clown loach page.  LA

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